Changing of the guard at Karlovy Vary festival

Och takes reins from artistic director Zaoralova

A driving force in shaping the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, artistic director Eva Zaoralova is passing the post onto program director Karel Och, a nine-year fest vet.

Zaoralova worked closely with fest prexy Jiri Bartoska to revive the nearly moribund event after the 1989 Velvet Revolution. Its credibility had been damaged during the years it was run by the former communist regime. Zaoralova has inspired her small staff of programmers, curating thoughtful tributes that expose younger Czechs to film legends from the West that are still little known in the Czech Republic.

Zaoralova, a journalist and critic, will remain on in management and as a consultant, fest announced Wednesday.

“I couldn’t have had a better mentor in festival programming than with Mrs. Zaoralova,” said Och in a statement. “Our discussions on cinema have always been thought-provoking and illuminating.”

Och said, “I will keep on building on what makes KVIFF a truly distinctive event — a combination of modern and classic, the coexistence of new ways of storytelling with a fresh look on film history’s crucial moments.”

Officially taking over Jan. 1, Och is already planning the 46th fest, which rolls out July 1-9.Och has organized retrospectives on Sam Peckinpah, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, as well as panel talks with figures from Hollywood’s new wave of the ’70s.

Zaoralova, who recently won the Czech Medal for Merit for her contribution to the arts, will advise on fest’s program and events.

“I have been taking Karel Och for my successor for a long time,” she said. “I respect him very much as a cinema connoisseur and aficionado, as well as a human being.”

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